Beethoven - The Birth of a Master

Jérémie Rhorer reminds us that even with his First Symphony, Beethoven was crashing through the threshold of music.

Composer: Beethoven
Repertoire: ‘The Birth Of A Master’, including: Symphony No.1

Artists: Alexandra Coku (sop), Julien Chauvin (vln), Le Cercle De L’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Orchestral/Vocal
Label: Ambroisie AM204

The Music: Concept album? Documentary CD? It’s difficult to describe this disc, but all you need to know is that housed within are fine performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No.1, alongside music created as Beethoven was evolving from his Classical roots towards Proto-Romanticism: The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Romance for Violin and Orchestra, the concert aria A, perfido and other goodies.

The Performance: Rhorer’s textures are skull-crackingly hard coated and rhythmically assertive: the tempo change in the first movement, Adagio to Allegro, jolts the music out of its comfort zone, while the second movement Andante is lingering rather than sentimental. The Creatures of Prometheus Overture is another drill-bit account, although Rhorer demonstrates a lighter touch as he accompanies soprano Alexandra Coku and violinist Julien Chauvin in a feathery Romance.

The Verdict: Rhorer’s Beethoven is intelligent, probing and makes a genuine attempt to reclaim the ‘sound’ of Beethoven from ‘music’ we’ve heard maybe once too often.

Want More? Rhorer’s accounts of Mozart’s Symphonies Nos 25, 26, 19 (Virgin Classics 234 8682) begin from a similar white canvas.